March 16, 2016

The Keeping Room

The Keeping Room (2015) is an independent film set during the end of the Civil War when General Sherman's troops were moving through the Carolinas destroying as much as possible in their path. It focuses on two sisters and a slave girl who are struggling to survive when hell comes to town in the form of two yankee scouts that are raping and murdering their way through the area. It's part thriller, part home invasion horror movie, part shoot 'em up, and part historical fiction that all comes together in a slow burn kind of dreadful but very well done film.

Brit Marling, an up and coming actress with much promise, plays the lead as the older sister trying to keep things together. Oscar nominee Hailee Stanfield plays her younger teen sister who isn't all that helpful at first. Muna Otaru plays the slave who is as much part of the family as anyone else. The most recognizable cast member is Sam Worthington as one of the vicious scouts who can't resist going after Marling in the worst way. This was directed by Daniel Barber, who previously did the excellent revenge thriller Harry Brown with Michael Caine.

I enjoy stories about the Civil War and particularly liked that this one portrayed the northerners as villains given the context. The two scouts were so twisted from their war experience that they'd lost a part of their humanity and were on a rampage partially because it was so easy for them to get away with it. The overall tone of this film is rather dark, but it has some strong moments coupled with great acting all around. Marling does a great job carrying the movie and it's only a matter of time before she becomes a household name. This movie is definitely worth seeing, especially for the final wide angle shot right before the credits roll.

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